Riding a four-game winning streak after a 1-3 start, East Meadow’s boys’ basketball team fell into an immediate 16-point hole against Port Washington last Friday and couldn’t recover in a 59-36 loss.
The Jets (5-4 overall, 1-3 in Conference AA-II), backed by a balanced offense that includes three players averaging double figures in points, managed just nine first-half points in the loss. “They just took it to us,” coach Barry Dickson said. “We were one of the hotter teams and were shell-shocked. We’re only 1-3 in conference play, so we have a lot to do if we want to make the playoffs.”
East Meadow hit its bye after the loss and returns to the court this Friday for a road battle with Hicksville (4:45 p.m. tipoff), hoping to regain some of the offensive balance that helped spur the winning streak. While returning Conference AA-II Player of the Year Joe Campay once again leads the team in scoring, he’s gotten plenty of help from junior Cody Zafran and sophomore Joe Forrler. Shooting over 60 percent from the field like Campay, Forrier is averaging a healthy 11 points per game and is seeing an expanded role after getting some minutes last season as a freshman. Zafran, meanwhile, has been equal parts scorer and distributor, hitting the double-digit mark in assists (10) in a game already.
“Other guys have stepped up,” Dickson said. “The [opposing teams’] gameplan isn’t just to stop Campay. They can’t just lay off one guy and use [that defender] as help.”
Campay (18 points) and Zafran (17) combined for 35 points in a 56-52 win over Garden City on Dec. 31, and the three each scored at least 13 in a 62-52 win over Great Neck South in the championship game of the Rebels’ Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29. Campay added 12 rebounds to go along with his game-high 21 points, earning the tournament’s MVP honors, while senior Kyle Aberasturi chipped in with nine, including a three-pointer. “We played very well,” Dickson said of the latter win. “We were up by 15 at halftime. It was the perfect first half.”
But as much as offense and scoring have been the driving force behind the Jets recent success, it was a change in defense that actually sparked the four-game winning streak. “We were playing a zone defense and teams had scored 20 more [baskets] than us and we were giving up too many threes,” Dickson said.
So some tweaks were made to the scheme, and they paid instant dividends in mid-December, as East Meadow knocked off MacArthur, 57-33 on Dec. 21, and allowed the Generals to score just eight points in the first quarter and six in the second. Junior guard Damian Sanders has been one of the key players in shutting down the opposition and helps flip the court to jumpstart the Jets transition game.